Monaco Classic Week is not just a regatta. It’s a voyage through time and the history of yachting which in Monaco combines sport and a certain ‘Art de Vivre’ common to classic sailing yachts, period motor-yachts and vintage motorboats at a time which saw the birth of aviation and the early seaplanes.
It is this spirit that never fails to captivate participants and public alike at an event orchestrated by Yacht Club de Monaco. It combines races as a way to showcase the authenticity of sailing yachts along with the coveted La Belle Classe Restoration Prize, living well at sea with the Chefs Competition, respect for etiquette at sea with the elegance contests, and an extraordinary voyage into the past at the ‘Powerboat Meetings in the Albert I of Monaco era – Yacht Club de Monaco’s collection restored’ exhibition. On the last day, a Grand Parade led by SS Delphine (1921) brought all participants together in front of the Oceanographic Museum for a parade of living maritime heritage in all its many guises to Larvotto Beach and back to the YCM Marina. An opportunity to celebrate the 100th anniversary of this steam-yacht, the last still in operation, recognisable by her inverted stem and elegant lines (78.5m in length, 10.83m beam) with three boilers supplying the original 1500hp quadruple-expansion engines.
Style as much as performance
After the rigours of Friday’s race to Cala del Forte marina in Ventimiglia and back, Saturday was about what inspires the yachting soul, this passion that people have for their boat and the way they enjoy them at shore and at sea. The Elegance Contest again involved Princess Beatriz de Orleans-Borbon and an elitist jury called into judge the style, class and harmony of crews and their boats. Sailing yachts, motorboats and motor-yachts paraded past the jury on Lucciana Jetty, the crews digging deep into their imaginations to harmonise their uniforms and gestures to suit their boat’s stature. Salutes, hurrahs, canon shots, even sea chanties proved a challenge for a jury embarrassed by choice when the final decision had to be made.
A hand-picked fleet
On the Mediterranean classic yacht circuit, Monaco Classic Week stands out as the only one to bring together an exclusive range of classic sailing and motor yachts, selected and invited by the Yacht Club de Monaco. For owners, delighted to be together and sharing their passion, it was a more intimate format with only sailing yachts built before 1950 with a wooden mast being able to drop anchor in the YCM Marina.
Around 30 responded to the invitation, most of them Fifes, including three of the 15M IR yachts. It was an ideal opportunity for Moët Hennessy to pay tribute to the prestigious Scottish boatyard by officially launching a 25-year-aged Glenmorangie Tuiga Whisky. In their wake, were a dozen period motor-yachts and some 30 vintage motorboats including ten Rivas, outdoing each other in finesse and elegance while seven others, including three American Chris Crafts vied for supremacy in the sheer elegance of their lines.
Mariella (Fife 1938) wins Monaco Classic Week Trophy 2021
The La Belle Classe Restoration Prize recognises the quality of the restoration of boats that are often over a hundred years old. For this fifth edition, the Jury chaired by Sir Robin Knox-Johnston and comprising experts in yachting history including Dr William Collier has spent the week inspecting all the boats. The scoring takes into account respect for the original plans, materials used in the construction and the expertise of those involved in restoring them. The boat’s history and that of their owners are all part of the passion and commitment which also comes into play. It is a combination of this contest and the elegance contest that decides the winner of the Monaco Classic Week Trophy as they encompass all the criteria assessed in these two aspects to which is added that indefinable “love at first sight” reaction to the spirit that reigns in the life, maintenance and restoration of the boat.
The big winner this week is the Fife-design Bermudan